NEWS - Tuesday, June 8, 2010

BioWare Founders Discuss Challenges of Natal

BioWare founders Dr. Greg Zeschuk and Dr. Ray Muzyka are cautiously optimistic about the growing emphasis on motion controls. A wide-ranging IndustryGamers interview turned to the subject of the upcoming Sony and Microsoft motion devices, particularly in how it could improve interaction in BioWare’s signature RPGs. While the two dodged the question of whether they have current plans to incorporate either motion device into upcoming games, they both expressed a mixture of hope and doubt on how motion will be implemented.
"I think trying to figure out the meaningful motions... motions that are best to actually enhance RPGs are interesting," said Zeschuk. "One interesting thing is to imagine Mass Effect with being able to kind of like use certain gestures (that) could change the conversation or stop it, and you could actually pull your finger and pretend you’re shooting the guy for the renegade action. All of these things are all possibilities; the challenge is how it all fits together. I personally want to see it evolve beyond the party game. I actually think it’s exciting, but I think that’s the interesting thing that’s going to start out in familiar territory, very much probably like the Wii did. You look at the Wii, and no one’s ever gotten past that initial stage."

Muzyka shared the sentiment. "Anytime you can remove the barriers to entry from an accessibility or interface perspective, you can engage players on a more deep, emotional level," he said. "The challenge is finding ways to remove those barriers that doesn’t create new barriers like having your arms get tired from waving the controller around, things like that. If you can do that, I think there’s a real opportunity."

The doctors seem to want to see success in virtual interaction using Natal before jumping in themselves, and Peter Molyneux’s virtual boy Milo might help convince them. "[Milo is] where some of our thinking is," said Zeschuk. "It’s just that I think we almost want to see it a little bit first. We’ll play around with it too though."

Both Sony’s Move and Microsoft’s Natal have been facing difficult expectations regarding how they will bridge the gap between the Wii-style casual party games, and the core titles the 360 and PlayStation 3 are known for. If even respected industry voices like the BioWare doctors are cautiously waiting to see it work, the devices might struggle to make it out of the party game development atmosphere.



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